Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bunyan Bug - Attempt

Probably this would be the last post before my trip to Yellowstone. I will hit the road some time at night of 20th, Sunday. I work this weekend and start to pack stuff to my restored F-150.

All the flies I needed and wanted to try were tied. As mentioned in previous two posts, I just wanted to try to see if I can come close to Bunyan Bug. I came up with two websites with full of information; (can't be more authentic than this website.) (this is the site I learned the foam Bunyan Bug).

Reminisce of Bunyan Bug from "A River Runs Through It".

There was no way I can access to the horse mane. I substituted with a tuft of EP fiber and I might as well used a tuft of black EP fiber as an egg-suck. This was the first step and easy work.

Then I went to the art/craft store and found a supply of cork. I started to cut, trim, and carve. Close looking?

Then I carved one slit for hook shank and short one for wings. This was a delicate work so I didn't break the whole cork.

Then I applied "zap-a-gap" to hold the cork on hook then I filled the slit with epoxy. The cork should not come off so easily after all day casting or even when I get hooked into big fish.......

Final procedure, painting. I was nervous because this could dump the whole procedure and my effort. I went back to the art/craft store and embarrassingly I had to explain to the staff about the paint I'm looking for, "waterproof for fly-tying". I also bought several paint-sticks, thinner to wash them, and sand-paper for final touch of cork bodies.

After a couple of nights of painting, drying, and gasping for fresh air out of my door, I finally came up with my best and closest tie of Bunyan Bug. Wings were trimmed as they were supposed to look like in the book and websites after the painting. This is with an orange belly, as meant to be a salmonfly. At least as the book says, it came up "flashy" and "shellacked".

This one is with a yellow belly as meant to be a goldenstone.

I tied only three of these and the whole procedure took me over several days!!!! No wonder, they sell it $16 a piece. You can find it if you follow the website.

To me this San Juan Worm with Bead is technical enough....... And I'd rather tie several dozens of regular San Juan Worm in an hour.........I hope you get my joke.....LOL

I will have no internet connection till I get home around 4th of July.
Besides, popular waters in Yellowstone (Madison & Firehole), I intend to hike into some of under-rated waters. I'd like to encounter some big trout but hopefully not with aggressive griz, buffalo, elk, moose just to name a few.................
I hope I can come home and update more pictures and stories. Please cross your fingers for me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Piece of Foam

To tie a foam Bunyan Bug below, I was looking for a piece of orange foam in shops in my area. Unfortunately, they didn't have any. I thought "I have to look for in shops in Montana. I couldn't tie salmonfly imitation before I get there..........."

Somehow I dropped by an art/craft store in the same mall where an outdoors store is. (I had another reason that I dropped by this store which I will post next in a few days.) I was just thinking there might be something useful. Looking around things, my jaw was about to fall from the surprise and then I was about to scream for excitement. I did find closed-cell foams in various colors that were nothing different from those at fly-shops.

Here are two things I have to discuss; price and size. Large orange and black foams are from the art shop with stunningly 99-cent!!!!!! Then those in a little plastic bag are from the fly-shops with the same price or sometimes even higher!!

Here's the description of the foam. 12" x 18", I even didn't do the math for comparison. And I think I am a bit older than 4-year-old.........

Now we see how fly-shops make money!! Oh well, we all know fly-fisher and fly-tyer are usually talking about several dollars such as shipping & handling and sales tax charged by states where we live or shops locate.

I myself buy gears that cost over "a few bills" from shops in either Oregon or Montana. Shipping fee is fair to none and no sales tax while if I buy the same gears in same price around here in WA, I am charged around 8% tax. Sometimes sales tax over the shipping!!!

West Yellowstone charges 3% sales tax, though it's in Montana, as "tourist-town-tax", something like that. I don't always like it but I kind of understand and don't mind leaving little a bit of my money because the town is totally empty from the fall, through winter, to early spring. I want its business to thrive in order to keep the town as one of the best fishing destinations in the world........

This is probably one of a few reasoning that my tax might be spent in a right way, maybe...........

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bunyan Bug - Replica

As I'm heading to Yellowstone waters late in June, my anticipation and excitement are, as anybody else, Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly hatch!! Even if we don't see any surface activities, in that case, trout love to bite on huge stonefly nymphs.

As I was day-dreaming of fishing with huge stonefly patterns, one unforgettable fly came up to my mind. It's the Bunyan Bug as read in the book "A River Runs Through It". Some of you might think this is the Hollywood creation?? Not at all. To understand the depth of authenticity of the movie, one has to read the book by Norman Maclean. It's never meant to be instructional but with the depth and delicacy of fly-fishing that is still continued in our head after a century.
Here's the description of Bunyan Bug, from page 86 of the book.
But this fly is very hard to tie and reproduce in our modern fishing situations. Though I wished to tie the original, I came up with a website about the modern interpretation of this famous fly. Please drop by the website below.
It does say the original recipe but also the modern foam pattern caught my eyes and looked reproductive all the time. Tied with buoyant foams instead of corks!!
Instead of horse mane hair as in original (I think no way to obtain them unless being a horse-thief), I used EP fiber. I like its transparent looking as wings, also I might as well added an egg sack with the black EP Fibers. Then, as you can see, under-body is a piece of orange foam and upper-body is a piece of black foam.

I tied a Golden Stonefly imitation with a piece of yellow foam as an under-belly.

Later on, as I tried to simplify, I might as well have tied with variegated chenille, as I tie rubber-leg stonefly nymphs. Why not?? I marinated the chenille body with lots of floating oil. It should float really well. This is meant to be a Salmonfly.

And this is meant to be a Golden stonefly. I believe these represent spent/dead adults on the surface and also can be swing under the surface as drowned adults.

These ties look pretty good and fill my box. But also, I did my best to imitate the authentic Bunyan Bug with corks. And I did.

I will post about how I did it. It was a long procedure just tie one fly.....................

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Between Lakes

No, sir, no, mam, I haven't been in West Yellowstone yet. Not the "Between Lakes" of Madison (between Hebgen and Quake Lakes), but right here in eastern WA.

This is what happened today. My original destination was Leech Lake by White Pass. It's a fly-fishing only fishery but due to the "Lake allergy" I used to have, I haven't been there. Besides that, I wasn't sure how much I can fish from the banks or with a little wading. And this was meant to be the last rehearsing before I hit the road to West Yellowstone.

On the way, I dropped by the Forest Service Station in Naches to pick up a back-country topo map. This is for something in my mind for my summer project. I might make an over-night hike-&-fish, at least a day-hike. As I was buying the map, I said to the officer,
"I'm gonna fish at Leech Lake today."
"It's still covered by two-foot of snow and the access road is not opened yet."
I had to make a contingency plan immediately. But then, one of the most interesting and challenging things for being a fly-fisherman is to be flexible. Right now all the rivers around here are middle of run-offs. I guessed one section that might be good enough though I haven't been there either. It was the section of Tieton River between Clear and Rimrock Lakes. That section doesn't have little creeks that dump run-off waters but just a channel "Between Lakes" as in Madison. Tieton River below Rimrock Lake was indeed chocolate color as I drove up. I guessed right. This section was remained emerald green at least. Here's a description from the map I bought this morning.
I had to make some driving for the access, as I do at every new water. On the way, I saw this little guy doing something.

I parked at the top end of Rimrock Lake and walked upstream to the spillway/fall of Clear Lake. As seen in the sky, it was actually colder than I thought. Kind reminder before hiking into Yellowstone: "do not overlook mountains".

Also, water was surprisingly cold!! It might be close to Gallatin at this time of the year, one of the coldest waters in Yellowstone Country.
Nymphs seemed to be the best bet under the circumstance. Since I planned to fish the lake, I didn't carry stonefly nymphs and woolly buggers. But I made up with whatever I had in my vest. What a joke!! At a deep pool just below the fall, I foul-hooked a hatchery rainbow with an egg fly!! I caught several more including a beautiful native Westslope Cutthroat that I failed to take a picture.

Maybe I should have kept this for my lunch??
No, I already prepared a "gourmet lunch" in my own level. I started my propane on a stub and boiled Rotini pasta. That was tossed and eaten with.................Nothing can be more Italian than this, I believe??

Fishing was not done as I planned but I did enjoy the day. I made a contingency plan and didn't get skunked. Yet, I was planning to fish two or three hours anyway along with my cooking plan.

Though I didn't fish the lake, I practiced some nymph fishing instead, as I will be doing in Madison. My "blood knot" held pretty well too!!

I think I have done enough homework around here. So now I'm heading to Yellowstone!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sparrow - Tribute to THE Soft-Hackle Master

I think, as in many other hobbies, there are gurus and followers in a fly-fishing community. I have several famous fly-anglers and tyers that I follow and learn from. Some I have met in person, other through media (website, emails, books, videos). One of the latter is the late Mr. Jack Gartside. I came up with his website when I was "googling" for Soft-hackle streamer.

Then I found he was highly respected among fly-fishers as who really "fished for living". As seen in his website, his creation was not limited only to soft-hackles but probably his most famous pattern is Sparrow. And I am a soft-hackle addict. Then I heard that he passed away last year and lots of people left condolences on his website.
I don't know him in person but I believe his legacy should be continued. I'd like to post my best ties of Sparrow as a tribute from a soft-hackle addict who admires his patterns.
Please drop by his Sparrow site so I don't have to explain what this fly is. But to me, especially now as I am heading to Yellowstone area late in June, Sparrow should represent stoneflies, tied in various colors and fished in different methods and depths. It can be drowned adults, emerging/struggling nymphs, and washed-away nymphs. Besides that, it can be a streamer when stripped.
I meant this one to be a golden stonefly.

Tied in orange for a salmonfly.

Tied with peacock herls that Mr. Jack called "Evening Star" to imitate a dark stonefly nymph.

Tied in pink, my interpretation is this would be a baby rainbow as Mr. Jack said Rainbows like this...... I might as well have used pheasant ramp and aftershaft dyed in red.

Being lazier and more convenient than dubbing a body, I tied with variegated chenille. Variegated chenille are extremely effective when used on stonefly nymphs and bugger patterns. Now this fly, I believe, is truly a cross-dresser that is very fishy and represent any kinds of trout foods.

Golden stonefly nymph? Yellow/brown bugger? Who knows? I have to ask trout in Yellowstone waters.

I have tied Sparrow with my best so what I will do next is to fish with my best. I am sure Sparrow brings me lots of trout.

Though I have summer fishing waiting right in front of me, I can't wait till swinging these big soft-hackles in Madison River in the fall...............probably as Mr. Jack did "back in days".........

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back to Rocky Ford - Rain & Bank Cruisers

I actually had wanted to go to Rocky Ford a week or two ago. But as reported below, I had to cover my co-worker while he was sick. So I gave up. But to me, it was nothing (my arm was tired from cows though) when I thought of future, i.e., Yellowstone trips!! I meant "I gave up going to Rocky Ford" for this year at least till it gets cool down in September or October. As far as I know, in spring, moss from weed-bed and bottom start to flow from around noon, cover the surface, and make fishing uncomfortable (not impossible). Then what I hear is it will be all covered during the summer time along with abundant ticks, mites, and rattlers.

BUT!! due to this unusual wet spring here in eastern WA, I bet it would not be a total disaster (unfishable and/or uncomfortable). Today, it was a shower most of all day. Not strong, neither was the wind. I was wearing a pair of quick-dry fishing pants so just my legs felt wet. That was all. I was right about the condition I didn't see any moss flowing at all, water was kept high, but grass and cattails were not so high due to less sunshine.

Before talking about fishing, I saw two rare birds for me at Rocky Ford. I always see ducks (I mean general ones). But this one was really big. Kind of heron or something, maybe?

And this one was sitting on the same rock all day through. Who are they? Please let me know.

So I guessed weather and water condition right. I did guess and bet on trout actions and fly selections, which turned out wrong. Disappointing and confusing, not just in a selfish way. It just seemed "ideal" day and time (at least for anglers) = cloudy day with lots of water = for trout to chase leeches and damsel nymphs.

I started with leech and damsel nymphs as I did in the afternoon of four weeks ago. I cast likely spots, along banks, and toward bank cruisers. They didn't even see my leech and damsel nymph. Instead I observed that they were "rooting". Some of them were literally up-side down in the water and digging the bottom. Of course, it could have been leeches and damsel nymphs......but most likely for scuds, midge larvae, and aquatic worms. So I changed my flies and played with them. My recent favorite for Rocky Ford is my own design, Royal Ray Charles, as proven in the morning of four weeks ago.

Four weeks ago, I was essentially dapping to holding and resting trout, nothing technical at all. But today, I might have been a bit more advanced and technical. First I avoided easy spots on purpose. I decided not to depend on go-to and popular spots for everyone including myself. I was stalking carefully and looking for bank cruisers. My casting was nothing special nor long in distance but I aimed and cast ahead of the course of those cruising trout.

Anyway, right after I switched from a damsel nymph to a Royal RC scud, I hooked one in a visible (=exciting) distance. It ran hard and spat my fly. Then the next one went through the same scenario but came to my net and camera. A nice 18-incher. As you can see, her mouth must have experienced lots of hook-ups. This is why trout here are called wary, which turns out to be technical for anglers. To me, whatever....... really.

Then next one was the masterpiece of stalking and sight-fishing for bank-cruising trout!! While I was standing behind tall grass, I saw all it happened; cruising trout, my fly cast to trout's swimming course, she saw it, swam to it, took it, and I set the hook!! All happened only about 10 feet away from me. she seemed totally ambushed or just tired and came to my net in 20 seconds without much fighting.

Just a bit shy of 20" but about 5-lb. A typical look of stillwater, I guess.

In the afternoon, I moved to the upper end of the creek. I just wanted to swing my midge soft-hackles as always at the outlet riffle from the hatchery. But as four weeks ago, it was occupied by two anglers who never seemed to move around. Unlike a couple I saw four weeks ago, they were actually catching trout. This time, I didn't even try to sneak in. Except for the riffle, the alleged spot reserved only for me and my soft-hackles, it is basically a little pond. Good for kids actually. To me tossing scuds or whatever in this little pond is a more disgraceful way than dapping and is just for those who need fish badly and first timers. While, I do consider my soft-hackle is technical, observing, and understanding even at an easy spot like this.

I moved below from the pond. There is a good trough there. But due to waves caused by winds, it couldn't really be a sight-fishing and trout observation. It was a blind nymph situation, hoping for the best. I caught one aggressive 17-incher on this mini San Juan Worm.

Not as great as four weeks ago, I did have some fun today, especially after I went through cows after cows.
Besides there are always objectives and practice in my outings. Reason I suddenly started stillwater fishing is to fish lakes and ponds in Yellowstone National Park. In this coming June trip, I am planning to fish some underrated waters and overlooked species. I am thinking about to fish for a bit larger brookie, native Yellowstone Cutthroat and Grayling, and infamous Lake Trout in less popular waters. More details would be posted as it gets closer!
Mountains, rivers, trout, wildlife, and any other Mother Nature's offering always sooth my body and heart. I hope some of you out there go out fishing or something outdoorsy and have some fun.